Ouai Shampoo Review: "Detox" Shampoo That's Toxic?

Ouai Shampoo Review: "Detox" Shampoo That's Toxic?


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Ouai is a personal care brand that’s famous for their shampoo. The brand sells a variety of shampoos, from detox shampoo to anti-dandruff shampoo to dry shampoo, and all are priced at a premium of over $30 per bottle.

But does Ouai shampoo contain ingredients clinically shown to improve hair quality, or is it a waste of money? Does the brand use any questionable additive ingredients? What retailer sells Ouai shampoo for the best price? And how do real users rate and describe the effects of Ouai shampoo?

In this article we’ll answer all of these questions and more as we analyze the ingredients in two of the most popular Ouai shampoos (Detox Shampoo and Dry Shampoo) based on medical studies to give our take on whether they’re likely to be effective or if they’re a waste of money.

We’ll provide a cost comparison featuring which retailer sells Ouai for the best price, and highlight real, unsponsored Ouai customer reviews.

Ingredient Analysis – Detox Shampoo

Ouai Detox Shampoo ingredients

The ingredients in Ouai Detox Shampoo are shown above.

There are a few active ingredients in this formulation that we consider to be effective.

Hydrolyzed keratin was shown in a clinical trial published in the International Journal of Cosmetic Science to increase hair volume and repair hair damage.

Glycerin was shown in a 2014 clinical trial to improve skin moisture content, reduce dandruff and improve skin barrier function.

There are a large number of ingredients in this formulation that we consider to be questionable from a health perspective.

Red 4, Yellow 5 and Green 5 are artificial dyes, and as we documented in our Luseta Shampoo reviews article on another cosmetic product that contains artificial dye, clinical evidence suggests that artificial dyes can absorb through the skin and may be toxic to human health.

Fragrance is also included in Ouai Detox Shampoo, and a 2016 medical review that examined the health effects of fragranced consumer products concluded that this ingredient “can impose serious risks to human health, environmental quality, businesses, and society.”

Benzophenone-4 is typically used as an active ingredient in sunscreens, which makes it a strange choice for a shampoo.

A 2018 clinical trial describes this ingredient as damaging to natural ecosystems.

Chlorphenesin and phenoxyethanol are synthetic preservatives, and both were shown to be toxic to human cells in a 2020 clinical trial.

Potassium sorbate is an additional preservative, and linalool and citronellol are additional fragrance ingredients.

Overall, we consider Ouai Detox Shampoo somewhat likely to improve hair quality due to the fact that it contains keratin and glycerin, however we don’t currently recommend this product due to all of the questionable additives highlighted in this section.

We also find it questionable that this product is marketed as a “Detox” shampoo while containing at least a few ingredients shown to be toxic to human cells in clinical trials.

A YouTube creator named “SummerNicole” gave her take on whether this shampoo is worth the money in an unsponsored review:

Ingredient Analysis – Dry Shampoo

Ouai Dry Shampoo ingredients

The ingredients in Ouai Super Dry Shampoo are shown above.

Panthenol may be an effective scalp moisturizer according to a medical review published in the Journal of Cosmetic Science.

This is the only potentially effective ingredient we can identify in Ouai’s dry shampoo.

There are a number of questionable additive ingredients.

Fragrance, citronellol and linalool were discussed in the previous section.

Benzyl salicylate is a fragrance ingredient that was categorized as a health hazard by a Japanese regulatory agency, as we documented in our Nexxus Shampoo review article.

Cetrimonium chloride is another synthetic preservative, and geraniol is another fragrance ingredient.

Overall, we do not consider Ouai Dry Shampoo likely to improve hair quality, because we’re unable to identify a single active ingredient directly shown to do so in clinical studies, and the brand fails to provide any proof of efficacy on their product page.

We do consider this formulation to be healthier than Ouai Detox Shampoo because it’s free of artificial dyes and the two synthetic preservatives shown to be toxic to human cells in a clinical trial.

A YouTube creator named Tracey Violet reviewed Ouai Super Dry Shampoo and included a live product demo with before-and-after images of her hair:

Where to Get the Best Price

Ouai Shampoo is sold at a variety of online retailers. Here’s a price breakdown for the two products reviewed in this article at the time of publishing:

Ouai Detox Shampoo

Walmart: $49.42 (third-party seller, link)

Brand website: $32 (plus $9.95 shipping, link)

Ulta: $32 (plus $6.95 shipping, link)

Sephora: $32 (free shipping, link)

Amazon: $32 (free shippinglink to official Amazon listing)

Ouai Super Dry Shampoo

Brand website: $26 (plus $9.95 shipping, link)

Ulta: $26 (plus $6.95 shipping, link)

Sephora: $26 (free shipping, link)

Amazon: $26 (free shippinglink to official Amazon listing)

When considering shipping fees, Ouai shampoo is 24% to 28% less expensive for single orders on Amazon than on the brand’s website.

Hairdresser Reviews Ouai Shampoo

A YouTube creator named “Bekah & Co.” shares her thoughts on Ouai hair products in an unsponsored review. She explains why she tried the brand, her least favorite Ouai product, her favorite Ouai product and more:

Real Customers Review Ouai Shampoo

Amazon is a better resource for honest customer reviews than a brand’s website in our opinion.

Detox Shampoo is currently Ouai’s most-reviewed product on Amazon, with over 2,900 reviews and an average review rating of 4.6 out of 5 stars.

The top positive review from a verified purchaser is written by a user named “Don’t buy” who claims the shampoo improved their hair quality:

“I’ve tried so many things to help with my hair not getting greasy fast and nothing has worked. This shampoo has helped so much, so far I been able to go 2 days without my hair getting greasy after using. It hasn’t stripped my hair either, my hair is still very soft and feel so clean and nice. I love it and I highly recommend.”

The top negative review from a verified purchaser comes from a user named “Meghana” who claims the shampoo caused side effects:

“I got my shampoo delivered today and it is THE WORST experience ever. My hair is naturally good and never had any issues until I used this. Hair comes off and it causes terrible hairfall. This product should be reported”

Our Clean Hair Care Picks

Ingreendients Daily Shampoo is our top shampoo pick.

It's formulated 100% from plants and contains research-backed active ingredients like acetic acid, derived from apple cider vinegar (ACV), which researchers suggest "can condition hair making it softer, silkier, shinier."

Happy Head Topical is our top premium hair growth solution.

This formulation uses FDA-approved hair loss ingredients like minoxidil which is clinically shown to increase hair count by 11%.

Momentous Zinc is our top value hair growth solution.

A 2022 medical review on the use of zinc in dermatology concluded that "This review has found evidence to support the use of zinc...in hair loss disorders."

All of the products recommended in this section are entirely free of ingredients we consider to be unhealthy.

Pros and Cons of Ouai Shampoo

Here are the pros and cons of Ouai Shampoo in our opinion:

Pros:

  • Aesthetic packaging/branding
  • Contains at least one research-backed active ingredient
  • Positive Amazon reviews

Cons:

  • Contains fragrance
  • Contains additional fragrance ingredients
  • Contains synthetic preservatives
  • Unimpressive active ingredients in our opinion
  • Detox Shampoo contains synthetic dyes
  • Brand charges for shipping
  • Doesn’t appear to be clinically tested
  • Expensive
Stay up-to-date on our research reviews

Conclusion

Ouai Shampoo is unimpressive for the price.

The company clearly has an eye for branding and packaging, but the formulations themselves leave us underwhelmed. 

We were only able to identify two potentially effective active ingredients in Detox Shampoo, and one in Super Dry Shampoo. Many shampoo reviews we publish on Illuminate Health identify more than three research-backed active ingredients.

Ouai shampoos contain a large number of questionable additive ingredients such as fragrance and synthetic dye that may be harmful to human health.

Most of the customer reviews we came across while researching this article were favorable, and the average Amazon rating for this brand is higher than the category average.

For consumers intent on purchasing Ouai Shampoo, Amazon currently has the best prices when considering shipping fees.